Original German Pre-WWI Gewehr 1888 S Commission Rifle by Danzig Arsenal in Grade 2 "As Found" Condition - dated 1890

Item Description

Original Item: Only one Available. Over the years, IMA has purchased many collections and groups of antique guns, in which case we need to take all of them, as we did in Nepal. While these collections were generally full of guns that relatively good condition, they also had some that were less complete and unfortunately would take more restoration time than we were able to give them. We kept them in storage, possibly for future products, but have now decided to offer these "As Found" antique firearms to our customers as restoration projects. These are all original and as we received them, except for cleaning the dirt and grime off the exterior.

Please note that these are still real antique guns, and are being sold in "As is" condition at a significant discount from what they would sell at if we were to fully restore them. We will do our best to photograph and describe them and know that our customers will know exactly what they are getting. Some of these, such as this example, look to have possibly been project or parts guns, and are missing a significant amount of parts. These are being sold in "Grade 2" condition, and on these ALL SALES ARE FINAL.

This is a Grade 2 "As Found" example of the iconic German Gewehr 1888 "Commission Rifle", also known as the Gewehr 88, or GEW 88. It was manufactured at Danzig Arsenal, located on the Baltic Sea in what is today Gdańsk Poland, in 1890. It then and then saw long service, as indicated by "Grade 2" condition of the gun. It does not look to have been shipped off to Turkey at any time.

These rifles were originally chambered for 7.92mm Patrone 88 ammunition and had a fixed magazine. As with virtually all Gewehr 88 rifles in service, this example was converted to take the 7.92×57mm Mauser S Patrone, and has an S stamped above the chamber, indicating the conversion. The Spitzer-shaped S Cartridge was ballistically superior to the M/88, however the chamber required modification to accept the thicker walled shell casing. This rifle has the "S", but not the notch at the front of the receiver, and it has no stripper clip guides, so it was not converted after 1905 for the clips. The design of the clips necessitated making a notch in the front receiver, so the cartridge tips would clear it.

The right side of the receiver is very faintly marked Gew. 88 n German blackface type and also has re-marked serial number 781012on the receiver, barrel jacket (remarked), and magazine housing. Over the chamber it is very faintly marked DANZIG. / 1890., for manufacture at the Imperial arsenal in Danzig on the Baltic Sea Coast.

Condition notes:
- Action cycles and dry fires, but bolt head is missing and firing pin broken
- Butt stock has been reprofiled and butt plate is missing
- Bore is clean but very worn.
- Rear sight missing

An absolutely genuine GERMAN M-1888 Service Rifle, never upgraded for stripper clips or shipped off to Turkey. Offered in Grade 2 "As Found" condition for parts or restoration.


Year of Manufacture: 1890
Caliber: 7.92×57mm Mauser
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 29 inches
Overall Length: 48 1/2 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 5 round internal magazine

History of the Gewehr 88

In 1886, the French Army unveiled the Modelle 1886 "Lebel" rifle. There was an immediate reaction in German military circles bordering on hysteria. Why? Because the Lebel was the world's first small bore military rifle using an efficient smokeless powder cartridge. Now, the Lebel, which used a tubular magazine located under the barrel was not a particularly noteworthy design, but the power and flat trajectory of the new French 8mm round far outclassed the 11mm Reichspatrone black powder round used in the contemporary German infantry rifle, the Mauser 71/84.

In this rather charged atmosphere, the German Gewehr Prfungs Kommission (GPK - Rifle Testing Commission) went to work. Initially, the idea was to revise the Mauser Gewehr 71/84 to use a small caliber smokeless powder round based on the old 11mm black powder Reichspatrone. To this extent, production machinery was ordered from the Ludwig Loewe Company of Berlin-Charlottenburg in December, 1887. As things progressed, the GPK became disillusioned with this technical approach, and so a rather strange hybrid of ideas took shape.

The bolt design was highly revised by a Spandau Arsenal technician named Louis Schlegelmilch and features a separate bolt head. The ensuing rifle had a Schlegelmilch/Mauser action, a five shot clip loaded Mannlicher style magazine (note: while the clip falls out as with the Mannlicher clips, this one was markedly improved in that it could be loaded with either end down as opposed to only one end on the true Mannlicher), and a full length barrel jacket designed by Armand Mieg. The pitch and profile of the rifling were copied directly from that of the Lebel. The cartridge chosen was a modified Swiss style rimless design based on the ideas of Eduard Rubin. By March 23, 1888, the Bavarian military observer in Berlin, General von Xylander reported that the development was virtually complete.

Field trials for the new rifle were completed in November, 1888, and the GPK recommended that it be adopted immediately. The adoption orders were signed by Kaiser Wilhelm II on November 12, 1888. Issue of the Gewehr 88 as the new rife was designated, were first made in the spring of 1889 to the XV and XVI Armeekorps stationed in Elsass-Lothringen. Issue to the Bavarian military units began in October 1889, and by August 1890, all Prussian, Saxon, and Wrttemberger line units had been re-equipped.

The Gewehr 88 was made by the three primary Prussian arsenals at Danzig, Erfurt, and Spandau, a smaller Bavarian establishment at Amberg, as well as several private contractors, including the Ludwig Loewe Company, Osterreichische Waffenfabrik Gesellschaft (Steyr), and Haenel. Production figures up to the time production ceased in 1897 are as follows:

Prussian Government Arsenals: 750,000

Amberg: 425,000

Loewe: 425,000

Steyr: 300,000

Haenel: 100,000

Total: 1,675,000

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